Sidewalk Toronto at Quayside | ?m | ?s | Sidewalk | Snøhetta

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someMidTowner

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Reading the comments to that above article was interesting.
A bit ridiculous:
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.19.08 PM.png
 

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jje1000

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Mass data-collection does raise some interesting questions of consent and privacy, of course.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Mass data-collection does raise some interesting questions of consent and privacy, of course.

I think they recognized it (and it would be crazy not to). Ann Cavoukian - the previous Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario is said to have agreed to sit on the privacy advisory committee for the project.

And in jest, I think whatever artificial intelligence came up because of this will probably want to get itself downgraded back to an amoeba level after seeing what goes on in people's apartments.

AoD
 

yylover

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Just thinking, but it sounds like Google will be especially motivated to get moving with developing this site.

We might see things happening here long before other sites along the eastern waterfront.


Particularly good timing for the announcement in context of the Amazon bid. There could be excellent synergy between Google here (and later in the Portlands) and an Amazon HQ2 East Harbour site (should that come to being).

Unfortunately, our government is going into the Amazon bid with no desire for added incentives. We're kinda play hard-to-get with the "take it or not leave it" approach with Amazon. It doesn't sound like we're gonna win the bid.
 

Roy G Biv

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It's naïve to think that the prime motivator for a profit-driven company Alphabet to create this kind of "city" isn't about data-mining. Of course is it. It's quite brilliant: instead of creating "probes" (smart phones, home assistants) into the consumer's life, they will bring the consumers into their world.

So, yah, it will be cool for Toronto to get this technology first, but it is another step on what could be a dangerous path for humanity. Nothing ridiculous or hyperbolic about this point-of-view. In fact, we need more people subscribing to it, particularly in North America, where privacy doesn't seem to be a thing anymore.

Here's a great article with lots of quotes from former (and prominent) engineers at FB , Google etc who know what's going on:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia
 

Roy G Biv

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Unfortunately, our government is going into the Amazon bid with no desire for added incentives. We're kinda play hard-to-get with the "take it or not leave it" approach with Amazon. It doesn't sound like we're gonna win the bid.

The government is doing it the right way. Why the hell should Amazon get tax breaks? Also, Toronto doesn't make a ton of sense for Amazon because they are going to have very high competition for the talent they desire. They are much better off going to a city which gives them incentives and isn't full of tech companies. Engineers intent on carving out a family life will relocate to an affordable city for a good job at Amazon. And finally, Trump already hates Jeff Bezos, so imagine the ammo the Donald will receive when Amazon passes on creating thousands of American jobs.
 

WislaHD

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Unfortunately, our government is going into the Amazon bid with no desire for added incentives. We're kinda play hard-to-get with the "take it or not leave it" approach with Amazon. It doesn't sound like we're gonna win the bid.
It is discussion best saved for the Amazon thread but we are not alone in this approach. Boston as well is offering Amazon zero incentives.

I think it is more recognizing that we in Toronto are actually the big fish in a medium-sized pond. There are other large fish, but we are not particularly concerned with them and will continue doing our own thing and take advantage of other opportunities that come, such as Google's Sidewalk.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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It's naïve to think that the prime motivator for a profit-driven company Alphabet to create this kind of "city" isn't about data-mining. Of course is it. It's quite brilliant: instead of creating "probes" (smart phones, home assistants) into the consumer's life, they will bring the consumers into their world.

So, yah, it will be cool for Toronto to get this technology first, but it is another step on what could be a dangerous path for humanity. Nothing ridiculous or hyperbolic about this point-of-view. In fact, we need more people subscribing to it, particularly in North America, where privacy doesn't seem to be a thing anymore.

Here's a great article with lots of quotes from former (and prominent) engineers at FB , Google etc who know what's going on:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia

I agree with the gist of the article, but at the end of the day you can't put the genie back into the bottle - and people will have to learn to live with the technology, gain the necessary understanding of said technology (or not, as some inevitably will) and government will have to think of new regulatory systems that takes into account the "subtle" powers of this new fire.

Disclosure - I have recently wiped my FB account for some of the stated reasons.

AoD
 
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steveintoronto

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Be aware of the prime driving (pun intended) motives behind these companies. And it isn't altruism. Some have raised serious questions about "privacy" and "what are they going to do with all this information collected"?

Just up at the Financial Times news alert:

upload_2017-10-19_13-10-48.png


Gift Horses....
 

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steveintoronto

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It would be very nice if this was the catalyst to move the Planning department off of some of its strongly held non-negotiables about a whole range of stuff (including a few mentioned specifically in this post).
This is a crucial point. Not all developers are driven by the same motives, quite the opposite. Some are highly altruistic, and as long as their project is an *advancement* of sorts for the human condition, they consider that a success, and sleep well at night. Some are just money hungry pigs...

But to your point, *many* excellent projects have been proposed for Toronto (and Ontario, it's ultimately a QP problem) only to be squished in the bud because it "didn't conform".

Now suddenly, the same 'powers' are heads over heels for a spiffy, wham, bam, diggery-do digital approach that will (gist) "radically change everything". There are already answers, tried, trued and proven ones, many suggested by pro-active developers and planners. But hey, they're just not sexy enough...

Wasn't this an episode or so in Twilight Zone, where the aliens...never mind.

Disclosure - I have recently wiped my FB account for some of the stated reasons.
I have a new found respect for you.
 

mjl08

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John Lorinc: We need to Google some questions about Sidewalk Labs

http://spacing.ca/toronto/2017/10/23/alphabet-city/

The plan, a response from an Alphabet/Google subsidiary to a Waterfront Toronto RFP, is steeped in a cool, urban sensibility that seems perfectly calibrated to at least one strand of the city’s current notion of itself. The 196-page document meticulously name-checks virtually every project, aspirational plan and policy preoccupation circulating in the region right now, all of it packaged in the hip branding of sustainability, complete communities and inclusiveness.

To my eye, Alphabet has proposed a model (“platform”) of urban development that could be described as a built form version of Facebook – a highly enticing but heavily surveilled environment literally programmed to capture and sell user information to marketers, technology companies and whoever else can figure out how to monetize the way we live in and move around urban spaces.
 

WislaHD

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From Lorinc's article:

If you step back, it’s certainly possible to situate Sidewalk’s plan in the long tradition of idealistic urban reform ideologies that were meant to address the social or economic failings of the city at particular moments in time: Ebenezer Howard’s late 19th century Garden City suburbs; the Levittown subdivisions of the post-war era; the New Urbanist enclaves of the 1990s, including Celebration, the fantasy town developed in Florida by Disney and meant to showcase nostalgic urban design principles.

Seems that I wasn't the only one who thought it.
 

steveintoronto

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Seems that I wasn't the only one who thought it.
I didn't quite realize the depth of concern until speaking with some architects on it, one of them furious that WT, the City and Province would spread their legs so readily for the 'smooth talking tech-guy' when they've spurned many offers by developers for the models built and proven in Europe and some US cities.

The UK press had been talking about "privacy issues" with the Googlizations for a few days before the announcement in the Cdn press, but not one Cdn story that I could find talked of what the Financial Times highlighted:

Alphabet to build futuristic city in Toronto
[...]
In its proposal, Sidewalk also said that Toronto would need to waive or exempt many existing regulations in areas like building codes, transportation, and energy in order to build the city it envisioned. The project may need “substantial forbearances from existing laws and regulations,” the group said.
[...]

And WT, Province and City couldn't get enough: "Just for you, you sweet-talking guy". But no-one else who'd proposed much saner and non-conditional ideas had a chance. The regulations are rigid. So much more progress could be made in this town if Planning wasn't so parochial. The Province is equally to blame.

I'm reminded of Goebbels..."Tell them a little lie, and they won't believe you, but tell them a big one...."
 
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